Monday, December 17, 2012

Semi-Annual Update

Hello, the Internet! What's been happening lately? I hope you're well. What have I been up to? Glad you asked!

1. Terry Hope Romero's latest book, Vegan Eats World has hit the shelves and it's everything I hoped it would be and more. Hard cover! Beautiful photos! Delicious recipes (obviously)! If you have an ice cream maker, please make the mochi and let me know how it is so I can be jealous (or share!).

2. Isa Chandra Moskowitz's next book, Isa Does It, is nearing the end of the recipe testing stage (I think) and it's amazing. DIY gnocchi on a week night? Done. Burgers from scratch in 30 minutes? Yes. The best chocolate chip cookies in the world (HINT: rosemary)? Sorted. Vegan meatballs and spaghetti that don't disappoint? Victory! Seriously, this may be my favorite cookbook. I may say that about every cookbook, but this time I mean it even more: the recipes are delicious and most are timed so you can start them when you're already hungry without losing your mind and personally, I can't ask for more than that.

3. This bit's a lot less happy, sorry: I'd like to talk about what's been happening at the Cove lately.

If you're reading this (all three of you), you've probably seen the film The Cove, about the dolphin drive hunt in Taiji, Japan. As an onshore volunteer with Sea Shepherd,  I discuss that movie with people quite a bit and appreciate having a mainstream film to refer to, even though Sea Shepherd was on the ground in Japan and cut the nets years before Ric O'Barry and his crew showed up. Unfortunately, for most people, the take home message of the film seems to be "Eating dolphin is bad, don't do that", which absolves them of all responsibility, since they don't. But that's missing half the point.

Ric O'Barry stated that he made the film as a tool against the captive dolphin industry. He realized how horrific it is and felt responsible for it because he had worked as a trainer on the TV show "Flipper", which he believes made people want to get all cozy with dolphins. Somehow this part of the message has been lost on most people.

This past week was the most horrific time at the Cove most of us have ever known. The dolphin killers drove an enormous pod of dolphins into the Cove Tuesday night (NYC time; Wednesday morning Taiji time) and didn't finish with them until Sunday night. These were bottlenose dolphins (the most sought after by dolphinaria) and they were driven for one purpose: captivity.

On Tuesday night, the dolphin killers drove a pod of well over 100 dolphins, including many juveniles, into the Cove. Despite the fact that the price of the dolphins depends on their attractiveness, the killers were careless and ran over several of the dolphins, injuring them. Once they got them netted in the Cove, they left them overnight.

Wednesday night, the trainers came and, working with the killers, took 32 dolphins into captivity. One juvenile became entangled in a net and drowned to death, despite another dolphin trying to push her up out of the water. This other dolphin was both more observant and more compassionate than the humans around who seemed to neither know nor care that she was dying while within their reach.

Thursday night, the trainers came back again. They did not bring the dolphins food, but took another thirty into captivity. They also found the body of the juvenile who had drowned the day before and another dead dolphin who may have been killed when run over by a skiff.

The rest of the hungry, tired, terrified dolphins were left trapped in the Cove for another two nights because the killers and trainers thought the weather was too bad to go out Friday night.

Saturday night, another 31 dolphins were taken for captivity and more were injured. The rest were left for another night without access to food or much room to move.

Finally, Sunday night, another eight bottlenose dolphins were taken into captivity, about 23 were killed and the rest were driven back out of the Cove to freedom (why the killers thought they needed to bang their poles to get the dolphins to leave is beyond me; they were already fleeing as fast as they could!). Hooray for freedom! Though I'm not optimistic about the survival of most the pod considering many of them are juveniles left without their family, many were injured and all were starved for nearly a week.

For what? For captivity. Not for the Japanese "tradition" of eating dolphin meat, but to ship those dolphins to shows and swim programs across the world, including the US. On average, dead dolphins sell to butchers for about $600 each. Live dolphins are sold to dolphin trainers for $10,000-$60,000 (I even found a website that said $150,000!) each. Yes, live dolphins are worth up to ten times more than dead ones. And who's paying ten times more per dolphin? Us. If not for the captive dolphin industry, they would not have bothered to drive this pod, 126 dolphins who were swimming freely last Monday, would still be doing so today and the dolphin meat industry would be about two million dollars poorer.

Seriously. Don't go to SeaWorld, Discovery Cove or any other establishment with captive marine mammals (or any captive wildlife, really). If you really want to see dolphins, try going to an island or out on a boat. It's better for the dolphins, and if you're taking kids, they can't nag you for a plush orca at the end.

To keep up with Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardian's check out:
What you can do

PS: To make matters worse, there were only two volunteers on the ground for most of this. Loads of respect to Nicole McLachlan and Bianca Brouwer.

1 comment: said...

I'm loving Vegan Eats World & I can't wait to get my hands on Isa Does It, it sounds great.

I'm also an onshore SS volunteer who saw The Cove and I also like (well, kinda, I wish it had never had to have been made!) having that film as a reference point for conversations about why places like Sea World are horrible.